Monthly Archives: April 2018

McCutchen featured in ‘Voices of Women’ video for Triangle Community Foundation

Gabby McCutchen, Dean and Department Head of Student Engagement and Transitions at Durham Tech, was invited to participate in a powerful video by the Triangle Community Foundation about gender inequality.

“The Foundation is an important community partner who manages some scholarships for Durham Tech students,” McCutchen said. “When they invited me to participate in a convening focused on women, I was honored to represent the successes of ever increasing numbers of female college graduates.”

The video debuted at the Triangle Community Foundation’s “What Matters: Women” conference at the Raleigh Convention Center on April 24. Nearly 800 community leaders gathered to learn more about how women are disproportionately affected as it relates to health, housing, employment, and education.

The video features women in the community sharing data about what women face in the Triangle every day.

“I know from my research and lived experience as a first generation college graduate that higher education is the key to increasing our earning potential,” McCutchen said.

Two Durham Tech students recognized at statewide conference

Michael Maldonado-Melgar receives award from N4CSGA President, Roderick Gooden on Saturday, April 7 at the North Carolina Comprehensive Community College Student Government Association Awards Banquet.

Noelle Lyon and Michael Maldonado-Melgar received a combined three awards at the North Carolina Comprehensive Community College Student Government Association (N4CSGA) Spring Conference Awards Banquet on Saturday, April 7.

Michael Maldonado-Melgar received the Outstanding Community Service Award from N4CSGA President, Roderick Gooden. This award is given to an individual who has performed exemplary community service, made significant contributions to enhance the quality of life in their community, and demonstrated an understanding of his or her responsibility to one’s community.

Maldonado-Melgar is in Middle College High School at Durham Tech and serves as the 2017-18 Durham Tech SGA Social Committee Chair. He will graduate in May 2018 and plans to attend Appalachian State University in the fall.

Lyon, 2017-18 Durham Tech Student Government Association President, received the Daryl Mitchell Award of Outstanding Students – Central Division and the Dr. Michael Taylor Servant Leadership Award.

The Daryl Mitchell Award is given to a student who demonstrates the leadership qualities upon which the organization is founded. The students honored with this award demonstrate the six pillars of character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. One student from each division (Western, Central, and Eastern) is selected. Daryl Mitchell was a graduate of Durham Tech and served as Durham Tech Student Senate President from 1998-2000.

Lyon also received the Dr. Michael Taylor Servant Leadership Award, which is given to a student whose work has enhanced the growth of others in their organization, increased teamwork and personal involvement, while helping the organization reach its potential. This student exemplifies a desire to lead by serving others in their community, on their campus, or in the community college system.

Lyon is also the 2017-18 N4CSGA Parliamentarian and will graduate from Durham Tech in December 2018.

As a part of the Spring Conference, N4CSGA sponsored a community service project to benefit Durham’s Urban Ministries. Students and advisors from across the state were asked to collect assorted personal hygiene items, casual clothes for men, women, and children as well as non-perishable food items which Urban Ministries could use for their clients.

Noelle Lyon and Dr. Bill Ingram

Two Durham Tech teams take first in engineering competition

Team Wingeers (l to r): Xiaogian (Jessica) He, Julian Clark, Connor Williams, Adel Fahmy (instructor), Ngoy Kavul, Gloria Murekatete

Two Durham Technical Community College teams took first place in the Rube Goldberg Engineering Competition on April 21 hosted by Wake Technical Community College, the team’s best finish ever at the competition. Approximately 400 students attended the event, which consisted of 78 teams from Wake Tech and 12 teams from Durham Tech.

Similar to the popular game ‘Mouse Trap,’ a Rube Goldberg machine is a complex contraption in which a series of devices perform simple tasks linked together to produce a domino effect.

There was a three-way tie for first, between two Durham Tech teams (Team Wingeers and Team Stranger Things) and one Wake Tech team. Both Durham Tech teams came out on top and each team was awarded a $300 check.

Adjunct instructor, Adel Fahmy, helped the students prepare for the project and served as their faculty sponsor on competition day. Durham Tech students have participated in this event every semester since 2013.

Team Wingeers: Xiaogian (Jessica) He, Julian Clark, Connor Williams, Ngoy Kavul, and Gloria Murekatete.

Team Stranger Things: Nicholas Strobin, Abdul-Rahman Oki, Wyatt Tormey, and Raiana Zaman.

Team Stranger Things (l to r): Nicholas Strobin, Abdul-Rahman Oki, Wyatt Tormey, Raiana Zaman

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Lisa Blair joins the ranks of faculty scholars in SoTL

By Gabby McCutchen

Lisa Blair, Instructor, Spanish and French in the Arts, Sciences, and University Transfer department at Durham Tech has been selected to participate in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) in the Teaching-Learning Center (TLC).

SoTL is the synthesis of teaching, learning, and research in higher education. The TLC supports full-time and part-time faculty participation in SoTL projects that substantially change the ways in which instructors teach. SoTL is a multi-semester process that culminates in the participants sharing their research and experiences with the larger college community.

Lisa’s project is tentatively titled “Verbal Engagement in Online Language Classes.” She will investigate what online engagement activities best support language proficiency, and she will base the development of new, meaningful speaking and listening activities on this research. Lisa is an experienced hybrid instructor and brings to this new challenge her recent experiences leading a Faculty/Staff Interest Group (FIG) in the TLC.

Lisa will conduct her research over the summer and implement the changes in their courses in Fall 2018. She will report out to the college on their process and results in Spring 2019. She will also qualify for a $500 SoTL stipend for successfully completing her project.

The next round of applications SoTL applications will be due on September 1, 2018. See the SoTL webpages on the TLC website or contact Gabby McCutchen, Director of TLC, for more details.

Congratulations, Lisa! We look forward to hearing about your results!

Durham Tech takes first place in national NASA competition

After months of hard work, a group of Durham Technical Community College students took home the top award at a national NASA competition this month.

The Programmabulls, as the Durham Tech student group is known, won first place in the Physical Team competition at the 2018 NASA Swarmathon, a three-day robotics event at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on April 19. The prize included a $5,000 check and trophy.

The competition required teams to program rovers to work as a collective unit, or swarm, to pick up as many cubes on the ground as possible and take them to a base location. The purpose of the competition is to improve students’ skills in robotics and further advance technology for future NASA space exploration.

“This was a huge learning experience for me,” said Meredith Murray, a Durham Tech student who helped the team with its photography and videography. “It involved a lot of trial and error. It involved a lot (of) taking initiative and making things happen instead of waiting to be told to do something. We succeeded because we have good leadership that knows how to utilize people and talents. We have team members who are curious individuals that are willing to work and work at a problem until it’s solved, and we have great camaraderie and a lot of heart.”

Durham Tech competed against more than two dozen other colleges from around the country. Two other community colleges competed in the event and the competing four-year universities included Fayetteville State University, Winston-Salem State University, the University of Houston, and the University of Maryland at College Park.

“Our rovers performed much better than I could have ever believed, and that was a great sensation to experience,” said Soham Pai Kane, Durham Tech student and team member. “As perfectionists, we couldn’t help but think that minor code bugs yielded us from our maximum potential, but we were more than satisfied with the outcome.”

The Programmabulls spent 20 hours each week during the last two semesters to build code for the rovers and complete other requirements of the competition, which included STEM outreach, technical writing, fundraising, and documenting the team’s progress on video.

“When we won, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulder. All the hours I spent in the lab working this semester, the past semester, and at my REU this summer had beared fruit for everyone to see, not just myself and those closest to me,” said Dan Koris, Durham Tech student and team member.

The Programmabulls also won first place in Best Team Video and second place in Best Technical Report.

“The first thing we heard was that we had won second place for our technical report,” said Julie Hoover, Durham Tech instructor and faculty sponsor. “Chris Sanchez, a Durham Tech student, had quietly taken the lead on the technical report, and the students had really been meticulous about research, so we were so excited to hear that we won an award.”

Hoover said the win was an emotional experience for the group.

“Then Meredith Murray took first place in the video competition, and the team just roared. Meredith has worked so hard on our social media and fundraising this year, and everyone knew just how much she deserved the award. When they announced that we’d won the whole thing? I cried. It was very emotional for me. This team has been through some tough times and to win it as a community college? That’s huge.”

Durham Tech receives $400,000 grant for Advanced Manufacturing program

The Golden LEAF Foundation recently awarded Durham Technical Community College $400,000 to expand the College’s Advanced Manufacturing career pathway.

The grant will build upon existing curriculum to develop a full Advanced Manufacturing pathway. This expansion will include industry-recognized credentials and allow students to earn both two- and four-year degrees. Students will be able to start with the Fundamentals of Manufacturing program, which will offer them the opportunity to earn six industry-recognized credentials within the FESTO 4.0 industry certifications.

“Local industry has indicated a high demand for workers with advanced manufacturing skills for existing and future good-paying jobs in a former tobacco manufacturing community,” said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF President. “Golden LEAF is pleased to support the expansion of the private sector by growing the talent, knowledge and skill of our workforce.”

The expansion of the Advanced Manufacturing pathway at Durham Tech will place workers on the path to training, learning, and earning the certifications they need to apply for open, regional job opportunities and, in turn, begin their career paths towards high-demand occupations in Durham and Orange counties.

It also leverages partnerships with several local agencies including: Merck, Bell and Howell, Purdue Pharma, AW, Biogen, KBI, and Morinaga America, Inc.

Program participants may enter one of six possible short-term credential courses. By following the pathway participants may gain certification and continue on to higher levels of education and training or exit into skilled, high-demand occupations in advance manufacturing.

“This grant will allow us to expand training and provide students a more comprehensive understanding of, and experience with, automated manufacturing processes and procedures,” said Dr. Peter Wooldridge, Vice President of Corporate and Continuing Education at Durham Tech. “This project will create a necessary and unique training center to meet regional employment needs while providing students with in-demand skills and education.”

The college applied through Golden LEAF’s Community-Based Grantsmaking Initiative, a regional competitive grant program that has now reached every region in the state.

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to receive a portion of North Carolina’s funding received from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers. For almost 20 years, Golden LEAF has worked to increase economic opportunity in North Carolina’s rural and tobacco-dependent communities through leadership in grantsmaking, collaboration, innovation, and stewardship as an independent and perpetual foundation.

The Foundation has provided lasting impact by helping create more than 63,000 jobs, incent half a billion dollars in new annual payroll and train or retrain 68,000 workers trained for higher wages. The Foundation has awarded 1,581 grants worth over $813 million since its inception.

To learn more about the Golden LEAF Foundation, visit or call 888.684.8404.

For more information about Durham Technical Community College and the programs available, visit The Durham Tech Foundation is a charitable organization that promotes the current and long-term success of Durham Tech by inspiring charitable investment in its students, faculty, and staff.

Durham Tech students and faculty attend statewide IT conference, scholarships awarded

(Left to Right): Harry Bulbrook, Scott Neal, Michele Parrish, Kim Green (scholarship student), Danjie Song (scholarship student), Don Sommerfeldt, Tom Murphy

Six Durham Tech Information Technology (IT) faculty participated in the North Carolina Computer Instruction Association (NCCIA) annual conference in Asheville, NC, at Asheville-Buncombe Technical (A-B Tech) Community College, March 21-23. The event was attended by 262 IT instructors, guests, and volunteers from 49 of the 58 NC Community Colleges and other academic institutions. The conference provides professional development, certification testing, student and faculty scholarships, and opportunities for instructors to share their perspectives and experiences with one another.

Durham Tech IT students Kim Green, Christopher Kenestrick, and Danjie Song received three of ten student scholarships awarded at the conference. Nominating instructors, Michele Parrish and Don Sommerfeldt, joined the students on stage at the scholarship program and spoke to their accolades.

Tom Murphy and Harry Bulbrook were instrumental in the planning and coordination of the conference, serving on the NCCIA Leadership Team as President and Immediate Past President. Michele Parrish and Scott Neal achieved Palo Alto Cyber Security Essentials Certification (PCEC) during the conference.

Participating faculty included Harry Bulbrook, Margie Dietz, Tom Murphy, Scott Neal, Michele Parrish, and Don Sommerfeldt.

Durham Tech Phi Beta Lambda receives 9 awards at state conference

The Durham Tech Chapter of Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) attended the NC PBL State Leadership Conference April 5-7 in Charlotte where they attended workshops, networked, and enjoyed the keynote address by NC Commissioner of Labor Cherie Berry. A highlight of the conference was the awards ceremony where students received the following individual awards:

1st place
Cyber Security – Christopher Kenestrick
Network Design – Kim Green, Chuck Lucas

2nd place
Cyber Security – Christopher McDuff

3rd place
Contemporary Sports Issues – Chuck Lucas
Help Desk – Kim Green

4th place
Computer Applications – Christopher McDuff

5th place
Emerging Business Issues – Emilia Arrington

Who’s Who in NC PBL
Emilia Arrington

Career and Membership Achievement Program (CMAP)
President Level (only one in the state) – Emilia Arrington

Leadership Development Award for Attendance at 4 Workshops
Emilia Arrington, Kim Green, Christopher Kenestrick

Chapter Awards and Recognition

  • The Legacy Leadership Award (TLLA – formerly the Terry Lowrance Leadership award) for being an outstanding chapter.
  • 4th place – Largest Chapter Affiliation NC PBL Professional Division-Foundation
  • Recognition for being a Gold Star Chapter
  • Recognition for designing the 2017-18 NC PBL state pin
  • Recognition for contributions to the NC PBL Professional Division-Foundation General Fund (in honor of Gilbert Umberger) and the Scholarship Fund (in memory of Alecia Lawrence)

Christopher McDuff ran an excellent campaign for NCPBL state president.

Emilia Arrington and Christopher Kenestrick, both Navy veterans, carried the American and NC flags, for the presentation of colors at the general session.

Dr. LaTonya Steele was recognized for her 10 years of service as an adviser.

All five students will be representing Durham Tech PBL and NC PBL at the FBLA-PBL National Leadership Conference (NLC) in Baltimore, MD in June. Members will be continuing to raise funds for NLC.  Upcoming fundraisers include Durham Bulls ticket vouchers, Belk Charity Day tickets, California Pizza Kitchen and Chickfila. Additionally students will be participating in the Triangle March of Dimes walk in late April.

Durham Tech robots ready to swarm at national NASA competition

They call themselves The ProgrammaBulls.

For the last seven months, a group of 20 Durham Technical Community College students have been working up to 20 hours per week to prepare for the 2018 NASA Swarmathon competition at the Kennedy Space Center.

Swarmathon requires teams to program rovers to work as a collective unit, or swarm, to pick up as many cubes on the ground possible and take them to home base. The purpose of the program is to improve students’ skills in robotics and further advance technology for future NASA space exploration.

“The students get exposed to things they wouldn’t normally get exposed to,” said Julie Hoover, faculty sponsor of The ProgrammaBulls and geology instructor at Durham Tech. “We don’t have anything else that we’re doing with this level of robotics, and they can interact with NASA engineers that run the competition to get help if they need it.”

Durham Tech was one of 23 colleges and one of only three community colleges selected around the nation to compete in Swarmathon.

“The confidence the students get from these projects and the professional skills they learn are invaluable,” Hoover said. “Most of the students have applied and been accepted to schools that they previously thought were out of their reach because of this project.”

What makes Swarmathon even more challenging are the various team requirements, which in turn provide opportunities for students who are not necessarily interested in science.

“In addition to the programming challenge, the team is required to do outreach, so they have to create a presentation, present it to various groups like Girl Scout troops, and then write a report about the presentation,” Hoover said. “There is also a video requirement that tells the story of the team, and check-in videos are due on a regular basis. A technical paper and creative writing paper are also required, so if a student likes writing, they can do that. If students want to be teachers, we can get them involved in outreach. There is also a fundraising component.”

The team also needs communications and photography experts, which is where Durham Tech student, Meredith Murray, steps in.

“I’m not much of a science person, but it feels great to be able to fulfill the team’s needs in videography and photography,” Murray said. “This experience also helped me get an interview for a communications internship with a NASA facility in West Virginia this summer.”

Nine students from the team will be traveling to Kennedy Space Center April 17-19 to attend the competition for the third consecutive year.

“Hearing about robotics at Durham Tech was coolest thing ever,” Murray said. “I thought it was fantastic that a community college was working on something that seems like it’s for top engineering schools.”