Extra Blog Post 7: Donate to the First Virginia Tech Latinx Symposium

Support El Centro of Virginia Tech to raise $5,000 for the First Virginia Tech Latinx Symposium.

This symposium serves the Latinx student population, interested faculty, administrators, and students who want to know more about the Latinx academic experience. As Virginia Tech Works to increase the Latinx student population, The latinx organizations feels that increasing visibility, providing a forum for Latinx scholarship, and sharing pedagogical strategies for faculty who work with Latinx students will make this a valuable project.

Latinx individuals currently make up 5.5% population, this conference presents the university with the opportunity for positive publicity within the Latinx community in the region.

Click here to donate!

Extra Blog Post 6: Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy at Virginia Tech

The Inn At Virginia Tech & Skelton Conference Center will host from January 31 - February 1, 2019 the 11th Annual Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy. This conference showcases the best pedagogical practice and research in higher education today. Sessions address disciplinary and interdisciplinary instructional strategies, outcomes, and research. 

Early Bird Registration Ends January 15th and Virginia Tech Students pay $50.

To register, click here.
To get to know more about the event, click here.

Extra Blog Post 5: Affirmative Action

Affirmative action is one episode from the Patriot Act series of Netflix presented by Hasan Minhaj. Patriot Act is a new weekly comedy series from Netflix that explores the modern cultural and political landscape with depth and sincerity. In the affirmative action episode, Hasan breaks down the history of affirmative action, its impact on his experience with the modern education system, and how a recent lawsuit against Harvard that could go to the Supreme Court could change it forever.

This is definitely an episode that you should watch. Let me know what you think! 

Extra Blog Post 4: Mass media does not help us out of the intellectual minority

In this blog post I will argue that the mass media does not help us out of the intellectual minority. To get out of the intellectual minority it is required the effort to think for yourselves, that is, to be free. For the understanding nothing is required but freedom. So if man is not free, he can not be autonomous and independent. The mass media does not provide thought for itself and, holding back control over information, it extinguished the freedom of individual thought. In this way, the mass media does not help us out of the intellectual minority.

The mass media are energy networks that transmit information, (mass culture, internet and telecommunications). They are known as media, and are extremely important in building social life in contemporary society. Scientific and technological development culminated the emergence of networks that connect the world. These networks have long ceased to be just entertainment spaces; today, these communication media have their essence in the information, and have obtained an undeniable power of force with the society. It is not by chance that they are called as the fourth power. This is a way of saying that after the executive, legislative and judiciary, the media would be the fourth highest instance of power in the nation.

With the technological development, transmissions have become more efficient, especially through the use of satellites. With globalization, such media contributed to distribute in the world the way of thinking of great holders of media power. After all, the media is always controlling large economic or state groups, keeping the viewer in the position of passive information agent, often without even being aware of it.

Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969), in his book "Cultural Industry: Enlightenment as a Mystification of the Masses", asserts that the goal of mass "media" is not to produce critical thinkers, on the contrary, the intention is to reproduce the values ​​and ideologies of social groups that manipulate the messages, influencing habits, expressions and customs of the present time. These productions are always well accepted by the general public who, without objection or analysis, always reproduce these same ideas, replacing the consciousness of the people with a uniformity, thus reducing the frequency and probability of the formation of autonomous, independent individuals capable of judging and make decisions consciously.

In Brazil, this phenomenon can be identified in the enormous influence that television networks (Globo, Band, SBT, Record) have on the customs, values, and way of life of the Brazilian citizen. Especially when the function of social media is to "bombard" people's minds with useless and alienating information with unnecessary occupations. Whoever controls information is not the receiver but the transmitter, which in turn has ideological and financial interests, because it is linked to economic groups that move billions of dollars a year in the production of programs, advertisements and films, turning communication into a business.

According to Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), in his text "Answer to the question: What is 'Enlightenment'?" Enlightenment is a process of intellectual emancipation, overcoming ignorance and laziness to think for oneself. It is the quest for autonomy, for the majority; is the effort to get out of the minority and for this you need to have the boldness to make use of your own understanding. Thus, for him, the concept of autonomy is directly linked to the capacity for self-determination to which every rational subject is capable. That is, to be master of his actions, his actions, of himself, of not being determined by any external interest to his will while thinking and acting autonomously.

Now, only through enlightenment can man become more human and therefore emancipated, freer. If the aim of the mass media is to control / coordinate information, soon those same means of communication will not lead the human being to enlightenment, they will not help us out of the minority, because this clarification presupposes intellectual freedom. Thus, the mass media destroy individual personality, enlightened reasoning and lead the human being to continue in the smallness of the intellectual minority.

For you, how does mass media affect intellectual minority? What is the effect of mass media on our students nowadays ? Do you think  students have lost their critical thinking due to mass media?

[1] KANT Immanuel. “Resposta à pergunta: Que é ‘esclarecimento’?” (Aufklärung). In. Textos Seletos. Petrópolis, RJ: Vozes, 2005, p.63-71.
[2] https://direitoufma2010.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/a-industria-cultural.pdf

Extra Blog Post 3: Laziness Does Not Exist, But unseen barriers do.

The article written by Devon Price, Nonbinary Social Psychologist & Writer in Chicago, talks about the complex paradox of laziness in higher education. She is a psychology professor since 2012, and according to her she has witnessed many students procrastinating on assignments, papers, skipping presentation , letting due dates fly by, graduate students missing deadlines for applications or taking months to revise a simple dissertation draft or paper draft. The most interesting thing in her article is that she argues that she NEVER thought that laziness was ever at fault. In fact, she argues that she does not believe that laziness exists at all. 

Resultado de imagem para lazinessInstead, she argues when she sees students being "lazy" she ask herself: What are the situational factors holding this student back? What needs are currently not being met? What are the barriers to action that I can’t see? For her, barriers always exist and it is important that professors see those barriers an recognize them as legitimate. This is the first step to break "lazy" behavior patterns. In fact, professors should respond to a person's "lazy" behavior with curiosity and not judgment. This is important because when you do not fully understand a person's context, it’s easy to impose abstract, rigid expectations on its behavior. She says: "If a person’s behavior doesn’t make sense to you, it is because you are missing a part of their context. It’s that simple".

In the academic context, she says that most of the time laziness is a synonym for procrastination. But for her, laziness is anything but procrastination. People blame procrastinators for their behavior. Even procrastinators blame themselves for being "lazy" . " You’re supposed to be doing something, and you’re not doing it — that’s a moral failure right? That means you’re weak-willed, unmotivated, and lazy, doesn’t it?" For her, procrastination  is more likely when the task is meaningful and the individual cares about doing it well. For her, professors should look for what is holding the procrastinator back. They need to understand student's barriers. Is it anxiety? What is person's context? For her, educators are not taught to reflect on what their students’ unseen barriers are.
And, since most professors are people who succeeded academically with ease, they have trouble taking the perspective of someone with executive functioning struggles, sensory overloads, depression, self-harm histories, addictions, or eating disorders.

What do you think about this topic? Does laziness exist for you? 

Extra Post 2: Virginia Tech and First Generation Students

Virginia Tech has a student club to support first gen, known as 1st Generation at Virginia Tech (1G@VT) (https://gobblerconnect.vt.edu/organization/1stGenVT). The group was founded in January 2007 by Sarah Umbarger-Wells, assistant director for the Virginia Tech Talent Search Program. The organization is dedicated to help first generation students to navigate and overcome challenges during college. They are committed to offer opportunities, services, and resources that unlock the vast potential first-gen students. In simple terms, the group acts as a support system, providing knowledge, emotional support and resources that the family cannot provide to the student. According to Khaila Ellis, a senior food science major and fellow committee member in the organization, this was an important step to promote inclusion in college. She argues that when first generation students get to college, they usually do not know what resources are offered to them, and therefore, they might feel that they are left behind and in disadvantage when compared to other students (First-generation students find connections, 2018). 

Resultado de imagem para first generation studentsThinking about the importance of engaging and supporting first generation students, the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) declared that November 08 as the First-Generation Celebration Day at Virginia Tech. Also, on May of this year, electrical engineering alumnus Joe T (class of 62) and his family donated to the college of engineering $5 million to support first gen students. The goal of the May Family Foundation is to establish a multiyear program that aims to increase the number of first-generation students in Virginia who enroll at and graduate from Virginia Tech in engineering ( Corder, 2018). According to VT News, the May Family Foundation Pathway for 1st-Generation Students will begin this year with the selection of 60 first-generation students from Virginia. These students will spend two weeks in Blacksburg the summer after their freshman year of high school, where they will have hands-on experiences with engineering disciplines. Later that year, the same group of students will participate in the RISE (Recruiting Initiative for Student Engineers) Spring Game Event ( Neupane, 2018). Joe T believes it is crucial to support these students throughout their college life, in an interview for the Virginia Tech Engineer magazine he said: “A couple of people in small ways were very helpful in getting me on track and allows me to end up getting an engineering degree from Virginia Tech, so I need to give back” ( Corder, 2018). 

  • First-generation students find connections. (2018, November 15). Retrieved from Virginia Tech Daily: https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2018/11/students-first-generation.html
  • Corder, E. (2018, Fall). Gift creates a pathway for first generation engineering students. Retrieved from Virginia Tech Engineer: https://eng.vt.edu/magazine/stories/fall-2018/joe-may-gift.html
  • Neupane, S. (2018, May 4). Collegiate Times. Retrieved from $5 million gift to establish program for first-generation students at Virginia Tech: http://www.collegiatetimes.com/news/million-gift-to-establish-program-for-first-generation-students-at/article_6f215104-4fe5-11e8-9040-2b3cc613f6b1.html

Extra Post 1: UW and WSU support system for student athletes

Have you ever stopped to think what your college/university is currently doing to not only encourage people to pursue studies but encourage their students to maintain and persevere through their studies once they’re in? Have you ever considered your institution’s dropout rate? Many students do not finish their degree for a number of reasons. Reasons like insufficient funds, resources, motivation, incentives, and so on. Sure it is important for a university to have thousands of people apply every year for a chance to be admitted into their programs but even more important is for those people to be able to complete their degrees. Who else but former students can continue contributing to a universities’ prestige and reputation? Both University of Washington (UW) and Washington State University (WSU) are doing just that, specifically with their athletes. According to a data collected by the NCAA, UW athletes have an 89% graduation rate. Students tend to pursue sports in college to earn a scholarship so that they may be able to pursue a degree, such is the case for most minority students. This includes black, Hispanic, and women students. NCAA data on student-athlete graduation rates shows that women’s sports have a 90% graduation rate with the exception of bowling. Through the past decade black male and female students have increased their graduation rates by 24% and 15% respectively while Hispanic athletes have gone up by 21% overall. WSU doesn’t stay behind either achieving an athlete graduation rate of 81%. How is it that these two institutions operate to achieve these results? Simply put they encourage their athletes to do their best both on the field and in their classrooms. UW encourages their athletes to work hard on their courses as they help them along through any struggles they may have. UW offers tutoring, academic and career advising, psychological counseling and closely monitor their progress throughout their degree. By extending a hand, UW has successfully incremented their athlete’s graduation rates for the past decade. But why stop there? Earning a degree is both a challenge and a difficult tasks altogether, while the resources may be their some students lack the proper guide not only to use them but to have access to them. It’s true that both UW and WSU have done a good deed towards their athletes, but what about the rest of the students? Surely the same as well as different services are being offered to their students to help and guide them through their journey towards earning their degree. What about your college? Are you aware of any incentive or service your college currently provides their students to help them earn their degree? Do you have a different idea or approach that your college can take towards achieving this goal? How would you help or encourage your fellow student to earn their degree?

Blog Post 5: The future of higher education

Today’s reflection is about the future of higher education. Specifically, I want to talk about three topics:

Resultado de imagem para student debtStudent debt/finances: According to the Federal Reserve, since 2004 student debt in the United States has more than tripled and it reached about $1.52 trillion in the first quarter of 2018.  Laura W. Perna University of Pennsylvania professor says: “We’ve come to a place where most students have to borrow in order to pay the cost of completing a bachelor’s degree”. In fact, it is estimated that about 44 million graduates hold student debt, and today’s graduates leave school holding promissory notes worth an average of $37,000. Therefore, there is evidence that many young adults after leaving college have to delay important steps in their life, such as buy a house, get married, have children and make a retirement plan. What do you think about it?

PhDs and postdocs: Currently, US produces more PhDs than openings for faculty or research position. In fact, there are too many PhD students for too few academic jobs. On the top of that, researchers feel the institutional pressure of producing over the actual and normal capacity on any laboratory for quality and relevant work. In this way, they bring postdocs to help them with their nth project. This is a crazy system: for each thousand papers published, how many do you think represent a transformative/impactful work? One or two? What can we do to stop this vicious cycle?

Resultado de imagem para open accessOpen Access: In the recent years, more and more have been talked about open access. In September of 2018, the European Union announced the Plan S, an initiative for Open Access publishing. This plan is supported by cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funders. The plan requires that, from 2020, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms. This initiative has the potential of changing the face of science publishing in two years and therefore, it has provoked protest from publishers. Supporters from the movement say that “No science should be locked behind paywalls!”. What do you think about it? Should science be open for all? But, do you believe the general population is able of understanding the language used in formal papers? Will academics have to change language for open access? Do researchers have the funds to pay for the publication of their work? What is US doing to follow the trend started in Europe?

Let me know what you think about these topics!

  • http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/student-loan-debt-crisis/
  • https://qz.com/1367412/1-5-trillion-of-us-student-loan-debt-has-transformed-the-american-dream/
  • https://www.coalition-s.org/

Blog Post 4: Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management

The Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management (JIEM) is an European open access journal that aims to publish researches related to the understanding of industrial management and industrial engineering problems in organizations from four major perspectives:

(1)Production Planning/Scheduling/Inventory, 
(2) Logistics/Supply Chain, Quality Management, 
(3) Operations Management and
(4)Operational Research.

The main areas of interest of the journal include:
  • Supply Chain
  • Lean manufacturing
  • Operations improvement
  • Innovation management in operations 
  • Operations in service industry
  • Operational Research
  • Total Quality Management
  • Total Productive Maintenance
  • How to manage workforce in operations
  • Logistic in general
JIEM publishes three regular issues a year and authors must pay a fee of 295 euros per article accepted. According to the Journal's open access policy, research should be "freely available to the public and supports a greater global exchange of knowledge" and thus, all its content is immediate available and open to the public. JIEM adopts a new model of Dynamic Journal Issue in which authors do not need to wait a long time for publication as traditional publication systems. In this model, the journal is always open to new contributions and therefore, it accelerates accelerates the impact of authors' contribution and also brings the possibility of referencing the article in future research as soon as it is accepted by our reviewers and editors.

If you are from the Industrial Engineering field, access:


Blog Post 3: MIT invests in Artificial Intelligence for Educational Purposes

MIT has decided to invest $1 billion to address the challenges brought by the prevalence of computing and the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). Within this, $350 million will go to the foundation of MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, named after the CEO and co-founder of Blackstone. This new branch of MIT will serve as the center for interdisciplinary work in computer science, AI, data science, and related fields seeking to establish its position as a key entity within these fields. This act from MIT records the largest investment that an American educational institution in AI as well as the biggest change to MIT since the 1950s. The college is currently scheduled to open its doors on September 2019 but a new building, specifically for these fields, is scheduled to be built by 2022. MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing will create 50 new faculty positions as well bring a new deanship for the college itself. 

I believe that MIT has made this investment not only to establish position at the very top but to bring new minds together to propel these fields towards the future at a faster rate. The college will develop a new curricula that connects computer science and AI with other disciplines and you can expect new innovative technologies to come with this new college to support its courses and research. MIT is without a doubt planning on creating a new legacy within its computing discipline. They have proved once again its commitment to enhance education in technological disciplines, make it accessible to those who wish to pursue it and advance our society through its numerous researches. MIT as always been ever present within the top engineering colleges in the United States and with this moves they have guaranteed their spot for decades to come.

Source: http://news.mit.edu/2018/mit-reshapes-itself-stephen-schwarzman-college-of-computing-1015