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Universitywide initiative #1 - Student-Faculty Partnerships Working to Improve Online Course Design


Our UAF Faculty Development team is doing excellent work creating student-faculty partnerships with the goal of improving online course design. Great job incorporating student feedback into something that directly impacts them! The Learner Experience Advocacy Program (LEAP) kicked off its pilot this semester with nine undergraduate students reviewing online courses and collaborating with faculty in eight different departments. Student-faculty partners are meeting biweekly, throughout this semester, to discuss course quality and improvements. 

LEAP has proven successful beyond expectation. The enthusiasm and gratitude from both faculty and students is refreshing and many are already referring their peers to the fall cohort.

"Anyone teaching an online course should go through this program," says one faculty partner. Students share that they are building personal relationships with faculty and "seeing online courses in a new way." One student comments that, "seeing how much instructors care about student learning is really encouraging." 

Summer 2022 programming for UAF faculty will include a 3-day Indigenizing Pedagogy workshop, a Transdisciplinary iTeach, a month-long writing program, and a Mindful Pedagogy retreat. More information and applications for programs will be available on the Faculty Development website: https://facdev.uaf.edu/

Universitywide initiative #2 - First Annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition

Woman on Zoom

Picture provided by Zoom- Nitasha Walia

The UAF Graduate School hosted the first campuswide Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition in February, 2022. Twelve graduate students from four colleges competed in the preliminary round, judged by UAF faculty and staff members. Seven students advanced to the event finals that were judged by Fairbanks community members.

The Three Minute Thesis competition promotes students’ academic and professional communication skills. Presenting a 3MT increases students' capacity to explain their scholarship while engaging (and entertaining) a general audience. This competition is an excellent opportunity for students to showcase the fascinating research that is being done on our campus and graduate students across all disciplines were encouraged to participate. Over $2,000 was awarded to the prize winners.

3MT Winners:

  • 1st Place and the UAF Alumni Choice Award- Kelsey Frazier, a Ph.D. student in Engineering.
  • 2nd Place- Russ Vanderlugt, a Ph.D. student in Interdisciplinary Studies: Arctic and Northern Studies. 
  • 3rd Place- Lindsey Stadler, a Master's student in Marine Biology.
  • People’s Choice award and a prize awarded by Center ICE- Maradur Rashedin, a Master's student in Environmental Engineering.
  • UAF Speaking Center Most Improved Award- Mary Stough, a Master's student in Anthropology. 

To watch a recording of the event visit the UAF Graduate School 3MT webpage: https://www.uaf.edu/gradschool/news-events/3mt.php

Universitywide initiative #3 - T3 Alliance Makerspace Update

T3 Alliance Spacemaker

Student William Payne and Alaska Fellow Shannon Miller building a Raspberry Pi Powered Tank (Photo Jeffery Fisher)

The T3 (Teaching Through Technology) Alliance at UAF originated as a National Science Foundation (NSF)-sponsored grant led by UAF consisting of Upward Bound programs in 17 states. Now, the T3 Alliance Makerspace is located in the Duckering Building and is growing each semester. The pedagogy focuses on fostering a growth mindset in students, teaching them new technology skills, and then using those skills in a community engagement project. These same principles now serve to guide activities in the UAF T3 Makerspace. The Makerspace contains 3D printers, a laser cutter, a CNC router, and various other hardware supporting the design and fabrication of student creations. 

There are four undergraduate courses at UAF that use the T3 Alliance Makerspace: ES101- Introductory Engineering; CSP201- Climate Scholars Makerspace; F193- Introduction to T3 Alliance Makerspace; and F192- T3 Alliance Seismic Studies. In addition to student focused classes, the UAF T3 Alliance Makerspace is also used in F593- Facilitating a T3 Alliance Makerspace, as a course for educators to earn professional development credits. 

Introductory T3 Makerspace events are scheduled twice a month to bring in new students, build community, and develop skills. The UAF T3 Makerspace serves as a hub for similar makerspaces around Alaska as part of Upward Bound and other grant-funded programs. UAF students are encouraged to access the Makerspace during operating hours (12-6 pm M-F), and can be authorized to use the equipment following a safety/qualification process. To learn more visit t3.uaf.edu or stop by Duckering 345 and ask for a tour!

Selected news from academic units

Community and Technical College (CTC) Looks to the Future

CTC PRocess Technology

Jay Ranson wires a large circuit box at CTC's process technology facility on Van Horn Road

The CTC Process Technology Program is providing career exploration to high school students in Alaska’s high-paying career industries, such as oil and gas, water treatment, power generation, and mining. The program also offers the opportunity to earn college credits to get a jump-start on college. Thanks to partner funding from bp America, students were able to enroll for only $60 and earn 3 credits in the process.

CTC is also offering a free class to high school students to help them prepare for and navigate life after high school (and earn college credit and high school credit at the same time)! Students will learn about education and career path options, personal finances, and more. The life and work planning class has been funded by the Office of the UA President and is being delivered via Zoom to high schools throughout the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. 

The CTC Aviation Maintenance Program is delivering an FAA Test Preparation class in spring 2022 that is designed to meet the needs of military or civilian aircraft maintainers who possess 30 months of experience. This new 9-week course has been designed to prepare apprentice mechanics for the Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic FAA Certification test, and provide an additional pathway to meet Alaska’s aviation workforce needs.

College of Engineering and Mines (CEM) Partners with the Department of Transportation (DOT)

High Bay Area

Picture taken by Billy Connor

CEM is transforming their high bay area into something that the Alaska DOT can use to conduct testing and research currently conducted at other universities. Future fabrication of load frames for the high bay will be able to support structures as large as 100-foot-long bridge girders for dynamic and static testing. The funds used to purchase the steel and pay for the fabrication (~$250K) were donated to CEM by Alan Straub, UAF engineering graduate. Fabrication should start this spring/summer.

Museum of the North Showcased in PBS Science Documentary

A preview of the PBS science documentary can be watched by selecting the below image. Video plays in a new tab. 

Alaskan Dinosuars

Our UAF Museum of the North is making waves both nationally and internationally. Research on Alaskan dinosaurs by Museum paleontologists, including Director Pat Druckenmiller and his graduate students, was the focus of a recent full episode of the PBS science documentary NOVA. The episode “Alaskan Dinosaurs” aired nationally on January 19th. Up next is a one hour version produced by National Geographic titled “Hunting Alaskan Dinosaurs,” airing internationally. 

For a final laugh, below is dinosaur joke:

Scientists discovered a new dinosaur that is very intelligent. It’s called a thesaurus.🤣🤣🤣


UAF is an AA/EO employer and educational institution and prohibits illegal discrimination against any individual: www.alaska.edu/nondiscrimination/.