Monthly Archives: November 2018

NASA “Hidden Figure” discusses life, work during Durham Tech seminar

Dr. Christine Darden talks to students in the TLC before her Science Seminar presentation in the Collins auditorium.

North Carolina native Dr. Christine Darden dedicated 40 years to NASA, and on Wednesday, Nov. 14, Durham Tech students, faculty, and staff were given an insight into her life and work at NASA.

Darden is a retired mathematician, data analyst, and aeronautical engineer who was featured in the hit book, “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.” The book, written by Margot Lee Shetterly, focused on four African-American women who worked at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Va., to help America lead in aeronautics, space research, and computer technology. Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory is now Langley Research Center.

Darden’s presentation was titled “Dreaming and On Their Shoulders.” It was part of the College’s Science Seminar series.

During her presentation, she recounted moments from her life and time at NASA and discussed her research on supersonic flight and sonic booms. Students, faculty, staff, and community members, including middle school students, packed the auditorium in the Harold K. Collins Building on Main Campus to hear her speak.

“Having things like this for students is powerful,” Darden said after her presentation. “We don’t always know how events like this impact our audience but I think very often it does have a positive impact on them.”

Darden stated up front that she wasn’t one of the women featured in the movie version of “Hidden Figures.” She was in college during the movie’s time frame, when NASA was trying to launch American astronaut John Glenn into orbit.

“I watched John Glenn’s parade in Hampton when he came back from orbit,” Darden said.

However, Darden accredited the work of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson, who were featured in both the book and movie, for paving her way into NASA.

“In 1967 when I was looking for a job, NASA will still hiring (human) computers because they had done a great job,” Darden said. “I was sort of standing on their reputation to be hired into NASA.”

“Human computers” referred to women who used tools like pencils and slide rules to crunch numbers and write complex programs.

The addition of human computers allowed for women’s entry into the workforce at Langley, according to Darden. Women began working for Langley in the 1930s.

An executive order issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940s widened the entryway to allow for African-American women to be hired.

Three weeks after Darden applied to work at NASA, she was hired. It was two years before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

After working in the pool for several years, Darden approached her supervisor to ask why men of the same educational background as her were being hired as engineers. Taking that step led Darden to become one of the center’s only female aerospace engineers.

“When you think you are going to have to take a risk, you weigh the pros and cons of that and decide whether it is worth stepping up there to do but often you won’t get anywhere if you don’t step out and do some things,” Darden said.

Among her first tasks was to create a computer program for sonic boom.

She is now considered one of the world’s experts on sonic boom prediction, sonic boom minimization, and supersonic wing design, according to NASA’s website.

“Hearing Dr. Darden speak about the challenges that she has overcome through her planning, intelligence, and bravery was inspirational,” said Julie Hoover, a geology instructor at Durham Tech. “Women in STEM still have to pick their battles, even in 2018, so I particularly appreciated the advice she gave the students to be persistent and take risks when trying to reach their goals.”

Hoover herself has had some run-ins with NASA as she is the faculty sponsor of NASA Swarmathon and The Unacceptable Risks GOAT/RAM High Altitude Student Payload teams, both of whom compete in NASA-connected competitions and projects.

The Science Seminar Series has occurred for 19 years. Darden, who is based in Virginia, is one of the only out-of-state speakers to be invited, according to Dr. Steve Leadon, who co-hosts the series with Dr. Kathy Zarilla. Leadon is the interim chair of the science program and a biology instructor, while Zarilla serves as the undergraduate research/project-based learning, student learning, and instructional services coordinator and teaches biology and microbiology.

Naomi Feaste, a Durham Tech instructor in the high school equivalency programs, is the one who recommended Darden to Leadon. Feaste attended the same high school as Darden and heard Darden speak at a high school reunion Feaste attended, according to Darden.

Before Darden’s seminar at 3:30 p.m., she spent more than an hour answering questions from a room full of students in the Teaching-Learning Center.

“I was pleased to be invited here,” Darden said after her seminar. “I have found it very invigorating myself to meet a lot of different people and hear their questions and talk to them about what I did. … It has been a great day for me. I’ve enjoyed it, and I hope it has some meaning here.”

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Durham Tech math team takes third overall in state competition

L to R: Sam Dod, Daniel Christie, and Robert Furuya, Ivan Renjel. Team won 2nd during afternoon competition.

The Durham Technical Community College Math Team achieved another top three finish in the ninth annual North Carolina Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges’ Math Competition (NCMATYC) on November 10 at Davidson Community College in Thomasville.

Thirteen schools from across the state brought 93 students to the competition, which is made up of an individual calculus test in the morning and collaborative problem-solving in the afternoon. Durham Tech student, Ian Clark, finished fourth in the morning competition, while a team of Sam Dod, Ivan Reniel, Daniel Christie, and Robert Furuya finished second in the afternoon competition; leading to a third-overall finish for Durham Tech.

Other Durham Tech participants — all of whom finished in the top quartile in the afternoon competition — were Claire Cronin, Susan Pizzuti, Jessica Chlebowski, Jennifer Wright, Francisco Ortiz Paparoni, and Brooks Byrd.

NCMATYC, founded in 1988, is an organization of mathematics instructors from across North Carolina that work together to establish and maintain communication among teachers of mathematics at two-year colleges.

L to R: Jessica Chlebowski, Francisco Ortiz Paparoni, Susan Pizzuti, Jennifer Wright, Brooks Byrd, Robert Furuya, Sam Dod, Daniel Christie, Ivan Renjel. on knees (Ian Clark). Not pictured, Claire Cronin.

Durham Tech program director wins prestigious respiratory care educator award

Janemarie Baker

A Durham Technical Community College program director has been awarded the prestigious Gail Gane Educator of the Year Award.

Janemarie Baker, Director of the Respiratory Therapy program, was recognized at the North Carolina Society for Respiratory Care awards ceremony on Nov. 12.

The award is given to respiratory care educators who have demonstrated top-notch service and leadership in respiratory therapy education throughout the year, according to the award’s website.

“I was honored to receive this award as there are many smart and talented respiratory therapy instructors in North Carolina,” Baker said.

NCSRC members submit nominees for the award, and the society’s Awards and Scholarship Committee select the winner.

The awards ceremony was held during the society’s 40th annual symposium at the East Carolina Heart Institute in Greenville, N.C. Baker received a plaque to commemorate the accolade.

“The work that we do is so important to the community – not only the education that we provide but the qualified and competent therapists that our program at Durham Tech produces to provide care locally and nationwide,” Baker said. “I am very proud of the program we have and feel that this award is a reflection on the program as a whole, not just one person.”

Baker earned her associate’s degree in respiratory therapy from Delaware Technical Community College. She received her bachelor’s degree in health science from West Chester University and her master’s in business Administration with a focus on health care administration from Wilmington University.

She is a registered respiratory therapist whose background includes working in adult, pediatric, and neonatal respiratory care. Before coming to Durham Tech, she worked as a therapist, ECMO specialist, and manager at UNC Health Care.

Baker has been with Durham Tech since 2013 and took over the program in 2016. She also chairs NCARE, the North Carolina Association of Respiratory Educators.

“Janemarie is committed to the success of her students, ensuring that they are prepared to enter the respiratory care profession,” said Melissa Oakley Ockert, Dean and Department Head of Heath Technologies at Durham Tech.

“Her dedication to the profession, to the program, and to Durham Tech is an inspiration to all of us.”

Community leaders re-elected to top positions of Durham Tech Board of Trustees

Tara Fikes

John Burness

Longtime community leaders John F. Burness and Dr. Tara L. Fikes have been reelected as Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, of the Durham Technical Community College Board of Trustees.

The two were first elected to their posts in the fall of 2017 for the 2017-18 academic year.

Burness, a former Vice Chair, has served on the board since 2009, when he was appointed by the Durham Public Schools Board of Education. He is the retired senior vice president for public affairs and government relations at Duke University and an adjunct professor in the Dewitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

Fikes, retired director of Housing, Human Rights, and Community Development for Orange County, was first appointed to the board by the Durham County Board of Commissioners in 2013 and then reappointed in 2015. In addition to being vice chair, she also chairs the Policies and Personnel Committee.

“The Board of Trustees will continue to benefit from the leadership of John Burness and Dr. Tara Fikes as they both return to their posts as Chair and Vice Chair. The Trustees are valuable and vital to the operations of the College, and we look forward to the upcoming year,” said Dr. Bill Ingram, President of Durham Tech.

Burness has demonstrated his commitment to education through numerous roles. His previous positions include founding chair of the board of directors of the Durham Communities in Schools dropout prevention program; director of the Durham Public Education Network; and interim president of Franklin and Marshall College, his alma mater, from 2010-11. He also has worked at Cornell University, University of Illinois, and Stony Brook University, headed the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership, and is on the board of Private College 529.

Fikes works as an adjunct instructor in the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill. She has chaired the Durham County Social Services Board and has been on the board of the North Carolina Social Services Board Association. She got her Master of Public Affairs from N.C. State and her Doctorate in Public Administration from the University of Southern California.

The Board of Trustees consists of 14 voting members and governs Durham Tech. Members are appointed by the North Carolina Governor, Durham County Board of Commissioners, Durham Public Schools Board of Education, and the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

The Trustees serve four-year terms and set local policy for the College. A representative of the Durham Tech Student Government Association serves as a non-voting trustee.

Local business leader joins Durham Tech Board of Trustees

Gracie Johnson-Lopez

Local corporate executive Gracie Johnson-Lopez is the newest member of the Durham Technical Community College Board of Trustees.

Johnson-Lopez is the Founder, President, and Principal Consultant of Diversity & HR Solutions based out of Raleigh. She was sworn in at a Board of Trustees meeting in October.

Johnson-Lopez previously chaired the Durham Tech Foundation Board of Directors from 2013 to 2017 and currently sits on the board of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce. She has also served on the Board of Directors and chaired the Diversity Committee of the Triangle Society for Human Resource Management.

She received a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration from North Carolina Central University and a Master of Arts degree in Liberal Studies from Duke University. She also has received certificates in executive leadership from the University of North Carolina and leadership from the Dartmouth School of Business Management.

Johnson-Lopez was appointed to the Durham Tech Board of Trustees by Gov. Roy Cooper. She took the place of former Board of Trustee member Stephen Barringer, whose term had ended.

John F. Burness and Dr. Tara L. Fikes also were reinstated to their positions of Chair and Vice Chair, respectively.

“We are grateful to Gov. Cooper for appointing Gracie Johnson-Lopez to the Durham Tech Board of Trustees,” Burness said.

“She brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and commitment to Durham Tech’s unique role in advancing social progress and economic development for the residents of our community. Her colleagues on the Trustees look forward to working with her to support President Bill Ingram and the faculty and administrative leadership team and especially our students.”

The Board of Trustees consists of 14 voting members and governs Durham Tech. Members are appointed by the North Carolina Governor, Durham County Board of Commissioners, Durham Public Schools Board of Education, and the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

The Trustees serve four-year terms and set local policy for the College. A representative of the Durham Tech Student Government Association serves as a non-voting trustee.

Durham Public Schools, Durham Tech partner to prepare students for skilled trades field

Ben Lock, instructor in Construction Trades program at Durham Tech, helps student during first construction camp held at Durham Tech for high school students.

Grants from A.J. Fletcher Foundation will help fund new career pathway

Durham Public Schools and Durham Technical Community College are collaborating with local businesses to fulfill the need for skilled trade workers in the area.

The WayMakers: Durham’s Skilled Trades Pathway is funded through $450,000 in grants from the A.J. Fletcher Foundation. Durham Public Schools will receive $300,000 and Durham Tech will receive $150,000.

“Durham Tech and Durham Public Schools recognize the need for skilled trade employees in Durham and the rest of the Triangle,” said Dr. Bill Ingram, President of Durham Tech. “We are proud to partner with Durham Public Schools and area businesses to meet this community need by training high school and adult students to qualify for in-demand positions with livable wages.”

Durham Public Schools will apply their grant funds to establish a Skilled Trades Academy at Southern School of Energy & Sustainability, which will start in Fall 2019. The academy will be for juniors and seniors in the Durham Public Schools system and will feature courses in construction, electrical, HVAC, power line maintenance, and plumbing in addition to classes in leadership and entrepreneurship.

Durham Tech will provide the Pathway by doubling the number of instructional offerings in the College’s Core Construction Fundamentals Course; establishing new plumbing and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, or HVAC, apprenticeship opportunities; and expanding shared programming with Durham Public Schools.

“The future is about collaboration. Empowering our kids to excel in the 21st-century means they’re going to need real world experiences. Durham Tech and Durham Public Schools working together to make that happen is what Durham is all about,” said Damon Circosta, Executive Director and Vice President of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation.

Durham Tech will use its grant funds from A.J. Fletcher to build out and equip teaching spaces and help hire instructors for plumbing and HVAC courses.

Graduates from the Skilled Trades Academy can then choose whether they want to seek employment or apprenticeship opportunities or continue their education at Durham Tech or a four-year college.

“Our goal is to open up more options for students,” said Dr. Pascal Mubenga, Superintendent of Durham Public Schools. “By partnering with local companies to offer rigorous coursework and on-the-job learning, our students will be prepared to go directly to work or continue on to college if that’s part of their career plan.”

Students in both entities will have work-based learning opportunities.

The pathway’s strategic partners will assist in establishing a shared advisory committee, developing curriculum and project-based partnerships, providing and training instructors, sharing resources, and other matters. Partners include CT Wilson Construction, Duke Energy, Durham General Contractors Association, Rebuilding Together, and Habitat for Humanity of Durham.

“Durham General Contractors Association is pleased to partner with Durham Tech and Durham Public Schools on this exciting new Skilled Trades Pathway program. We believe this program will help the Construction Industry, Durham Tech, and most importantly, the people who are looking for a good paying, long-term employment opportunity,” said Tim Cothran of the Durham General Contractors Association.

The WayMakers program will officially launch with a celebration in January 2019.

Let’s celebrate November anniversaries and birthdays!

November Anniversaries (Years)
Matt Williams (22); Gregory Bellamy (18); Jill Roofner (13); Jacequeline Mitchell (11); Linda Chalmers (10); Melissa Chappell (8); Vega Swepson (5); Justin Gray (3); Rasha Dumarieh (3); Amy Netzel (2)

November Birthdays (Day)
Andy Kleitsch (1); Jason Moldoff (2); Audrey Muhammad (4); Suchitra Dutta (4); Dawn Brittain (6); Gregory Bellamy (9); Erin Riney (9); Jesse Greenhill (9); Helen McCrimmon (9); Kevin Hinton (10); Jessica Dormady (14); Johnnie Bratton (14); Michael Macon (14); Angela Breault (15); Julie Hoover (18); Traci Moore (18); Tyesha Arnold (19); Susan Paris (20); Liz Filipowski (20); Keyma Clark (21); Leslie Scott (23); Lynn Unsworth (26); Kim Boyce (27); Audrey Newman (28); Kieran Gunnigle (28); Ralph Thomas (29); Marie Fogarty (29); Lori Heiger (30); William Gluck (30)