Jessica Sparks, associate professor in chemical, paper and biomedical engineering at Miami University, and then-graduate student Katie Bootsma work with a MakerGear 3D Printer. Dr. Sparks is the lead faculty member on the RAPIDS grant at Miami. (Miami University photo)

Higher Education Today: Miami continues to evolve at campuses

At Miami University’s campuses this year, connections are happening in all areas.

Faculty are collaborating across disciplines in teaching and research. They are also coordinating with off-campus colleagues in business, industry and agencies to bring practical applications to student learning and to open doors for internships and possible careers. Such “transdisciplinary” collaborations bridge campus and community.

Grant-supported programs reach across communities

An active transdisciplinary example is Miami University’s participation in a $1 million grant through the RAPIDS (Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills) program from the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

With Miami’s portion of the grant, $381,856, state-of-the-art full-color additive manufacturing (AM) and 3-D scanning equipment and instrumentation have been acquired to expand technical training in AM applications for engineering students on the Oxford and regional campuses.

Miami engineering faculty are also working to create new products that Miami nursing faculty will use to enhance training for nurses and other biohealth workers.

About 200 engineering students and 80 nursing students will be trained each year, and more than 600 biohealth workers will be directly impacted by this work.

Collaborating faculty from all campuses include those in nursing; chemical, paper, and biomedical engineering; engineering technology; computer science and software engineering; physics; and Miami’s libraries.

Through the RAPIDS investment for southwest Ohio, Miami’s campuses in Oxford, Hamilton and Middletown; the University of Cincinnati; Cincinnati State Technical and Community College; and four regional Ohio career centers (Butler Technology and Career Development Schools; Great Oaks Career Campus; Southern Hills Career and Technical Center; and Warren County Career Center) will work with TechSolve, REDI Cincinnati and a group of industry partners to develop a regional workforce capacity at multiple levels in additive and advanced manufacturing, with a focus on the aerospace and biohealth industries.

Another transdisciplinary example is faculty in education, physics and chemistry working together with a $1.1 million National Science Foundation grant to create a teacher prep program in collaboration with Cincinnati and Middletown city school districts. The program helps STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) undergraduates and current STEM professionals to pursue secondary teacher certification in grades 7-12, in either science or mathematics, via a community-based and culturally responsive approach.

Evolving areas of study prepare students for changing professions

In Oxford, academic areas are combining to create new study and research opportunities, including multidisciplinary programs such as bioengineering, art therapy, management of information technologies, arts management, plant biotechnology and environmental engineering.

At Miami University regional campuses, multidisciplinary bachelor’s programs include health communication and electrical and computer engineering technology. Multidisciplinary associate degrees include accounting technology, business management technology and marketing management technology. Several bachelor’s degrees, including in commerce and an RN-BSN completion degree in nursing, are available completely online through Miami Regionals’ E-Campus. A master’s in criminal justice and some associate degrees also can be earned online.

Coordinated student support outside of class

Miami’s Center for Career Exploration and Success is actively encouraging first-year students to be aware of career-related opportunities and is connecting students early to job-shadow and internship opportunities in a variety of fields.

Also in Oxford, health professionals are coordinating the physical, mental and emotional health aspects of students to create a holistic model for student well-being. Staff are working to align programs and interventions addressing mental health, sexual and interpersonal violence, alcohol and substance misuse, bystander behavior and related areas.

Through AccessMU, Miami’s accessible technology services, the university has broadened access to technology-based information for people with disabilities. Physical renovations to roads, sidewalks and buildings continue to improve access to all areas of Miami.

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